We are going through one of the most challenging times in decades. The Covid-19 pandemic and the associated paradigm shifts that are taking place will have profound consequences for every aspect of our lives in the future.
Although the disruptions call for redefining many of our objectives according to the new realities and recalibrating the enablers accordingly, this is where scientific research and development will play a critical role. Today we have an opportunity for research and development to support society’s changing requirements to drive relevant innovation.
The task becomes easier when it happens within a technology ecosystem, as evidenced in Abu Dhabi, where the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) acts as the overarching body that defines the emirate’s research strategy across academia and industry. Through its entities, the Technology Innovation Institute (TII), ASPIRE, and VentureOne, it is building a world-class R&D ecosystem in Abu Dhabi to address some of society’s most pressing challenges.
ASPIRE’s role is to identify these challenges, while TII’s focus is on the applied research and technology breakthroughs that will future-proof society. Moreover, TII has 10 dedicated research centers, and the recently-announced VentureOne will act as a component of the commercialization arm. Thus, ATRC is creating fertile ground for innovation with relevance and impact.
The competitions that ASPIRE has designed and implemented demonstrate how such ecosystems could work. By identifying some of the pressing challenges facing the world, the organization is producing competitions such as Mohammed bin Zayed International Maritime Grand Challenge (MBZIRC). ASPIRE also supports XPRIZE’s Feed the Next Billion and the FoodTech Challenge organized by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and Tamkeen. MBZIRC seeks to advance the autonomous systems that will have wide applications – beyond the realms of the maritime industry – to transform fields like disaster management. Feed the Next Billion is focused on solutions that will revolutionize the global food supply chain and its impact on communities around the world, remodeling the near trillion-dollar meat industry in the process. The FoodTech Challenge in a similar vein is focused on the wave of technologies that are on the cusp of transforming food and traditional agriculture practices, efficiently, and sustainably.
The ultimate idea behind the activation of a technology ecosystem is to shape research in the right direction for years to come. Applied research that’s purpose is to help drive the transition to a happier, healthier, and safer planet for all. That’s the mandate of ATRC.